Am I crazy to say this???
Yes... Humans should respond to the howls of their dogs. And when I say this, most people think that I say this out of my eccentricity. However, fortunately a few are still there who have understood the simple logic that supports this seemingly insanely crazy idea of responding to the pet dog’s howls.
For last few weeks now I have been going through some priceless documents of canine behavioral researchers. The major section of the documents was about canine vocal sounds – Howls, Growls, Barks, Whines, Squeaks, Baying, Whimpers and so on… An understanding of canine Howls has been presented in this post, followed by some kind of logic supporting this eccentric idea – “Humans to respond to the howls of their dogs”.
Canine Instinct & Purpose of Howl
Although the purpose of this post is not to explain "why do dogs howl". But it is important to understand the purpose of dog howls before proceeding further.
Behavioral researchers have delineated a set of purposes of howls of dogs/wolves in the nature. As a matter of fact, you will not hear a dog howling too frequently; it is quite infrequent… though not rare. Dogs, as for wolves, instinctively deliver howls under several situations:
1. When they feel the need to gather the pack at a point
2. When they need to reinforce the identity of a pack
In both the situations the pack members, on hearing the first dog’s howl, get together and join him/her with group howling. But the dogs staying in the house with humans usually get their food ready; therefore the need for howls for hunting for food is almost zero. But howls are still delivered by them as an attempt to gather their pack members (humans and other dogs in the house) for several reasons other than hunting. As an example situation, when a dog senses the presence of trespassers/ strangers within his/her territory, then he/she may want to gather the pack members (humans and other dogs in the house) to join him for prevent the pack from probable impending danger. Here the dog’s “pack instinct” comes to play its role along with “territorial instinct” and “guard instinct”.
In the wild the other dogs (by the dint of their natural instinct) positively respond to the howl of the fist dog and get assembled to reinforce their “pack instinct” and “territorial instinct”.
For a dog that lives with humans, his pack is composed of himself and his human members. Each deliver of howl, according to the nature of purposes, therefore needs to be responded through two distinctive actions:
1. Making yourself available with your dog - By gathering there with your dog serves his first purpose and stimulates his confidence that reinforces his “pack instinct” and “territorial instinct”
2. Vocalized response – By joining him with vocal responses (NOT against the howl, but for supporting his action - howl) you will stimulate his “guard instinct”.
To conclude, dog owners who do not bother to respond to their dogs’ howling or who fails to effectively do that are actually spoiling their dog’s very significant instincts. They are not doing their duties as a pack members. Responsible dog ownership doesn't end with providing your dog with good food, fresh water, providing proper training, and meeting all vet bills. At the first place, it includes understanding dog's behaviors that are genetically ingrained.